Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Perfect Weekend

TigerBlog was at the women's hockey games this past weekend.

Late in Saturday's game, TB was standing next to Gary Walters, when a woman who TB surmises is Kelsey Koelzer's mother approached the Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus.

"I know you," she said.

What did she say next? You were the AD here for 20 years? You were the head of the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee? You were on some of the best teams Princeton has ever fielded in any sport?


"You were the Tiger," she said.

TigerBlog couldn't help but laugh at that. The woman told Gary how she'd seen him in the last "Who's the Tiger" video, which ends with Gary in the Tiger suit as he mops the Jadwin court. It's funny stuff.

The way TB figured it might be Koelzer's mother was that she mentioned how she's seen them all and that, TB thinks she said, her daughter was in the first one. That would be Koelzer, who had one of the most subtly funny moments of the 12-part series, when she sat in a study session in a hockey uniform with her skates up on the desk.

That's funny.

Koelzer had a nice supporting role in the series. She had a lead role this past weekend for the women's hockey team.

It was Koelzer's goal in overtime that beat Harvard 2-1 Friday night to start the Tigers to their big weekend, which concluded Saturday with a 4-1 win over Dartmouth.

The sweep vaulted Princeton into a tie with Harvard for second place in the ECAC with 11 points,  though Princeton has played one more game to date. The Ivy League standings are even more favorable than the ECAC ones, as Princeton is now alone in first place at 4-1-0, for eight points. Dartmouth is in second, with five.

Those standings are even more unreliable now than the ECAC ones. Princeton, for example, has played five Ivy League games. Cornell has played one, which just happens to be a 2-1 win over Princeton.

For those who don't know, the Ivy League hockey standings are determined by ECAC league games between Ivy teams. In other words, those games sort of double count, in the ECAC and the Ivy standings.

Of course, that hardly matters at this point of the season.

What does matter is that Princeton has shown it belongs. TigerBlog won't pretend he knows much about hockey, but he does know that Princeton looked really good in the two games he saw this weekend.

The Tigers shared the puck well. They got some really good goaltending from Kimberly Newell. They didn't panic when they trailed 1-0 in both games, on Friday night into the third period and into the second Saturday.

In fact, Harvard took its 1-0 lead just about midway through the third, after 50 scoreless minutes. Princeton? It took 1:02 for Princeton to get the equalizer. And then, after failing to convert a 5-on-3 advantage late in the third, Koelzer took matters into her own hands, basically challenging
three Harvard defenders by herself on her way to the game-winner (which you can see HERE).

In Saturday's game, it was 1-0 Dartmouth on a first period goal, and it stayed that way until 9:30 was left in the second, when Princeton tied it. Then it took 33 seconds to make it 2-1. And less than four more minutes to make it 3-1.

The Princeton women weren't the only ones to have a big weekend.

The men's team also swept, winning at Brown and Yale, giving Princeton a women's/men's ECAC sweep in the same weekend for the first time since 2011.

The men are in Year 2 under Ron Fogarty, and it's obvious the team is making progress. A year ago, Princeton went 4-23-3 and never won back-to-back games. Now, through 12 games, Princeton is 4-8-0, with its modest two-game winning streak. Actually, in ECAC games, it's a three-game winning streak.

And of those three wins, two are against teams that were ranked, Clarkson who was No. 20 and Yale who was No. 10.

Next up for both teams is Penn State, which means a date for the men with former Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky, who took the Tigers to the NCAA tournament in 2008 and 2009.

The men are at Penn State Friday night. The women are home with Penn State Friday and Saturday, when the men host the U.S. U-18 team.

There are no league games left for the women until Jan. 1. The men play home-and-home with Quinnipiac on Dec. 29 and 30.

Then it'll be time for the 2016 portion of the schedule.

If the ECAC playoffs started today, Princeton's men would be hosting. That would be a huge accomplishment if it happens in a few months.

For now, it's a good chance to look ahead to this weekend and then the holidays - and look back on a perfect weekend.

For the women and the men.

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